This must be what Barack Obama meant in his State of the Union by a “ladder of opportunity.” Ladders, after all, are bidirectional. You can go up, but you can also go down.
And “down” is the only direction available from now to gifted applicants to P.S. 139 in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn. On Thursday the school announced that its SOAR program — short for “Students of Academic Rigor” — is being phased out. Smarter kids will just need to make the best of it down there with the kids who couldn’t make the grade.
Maybe I’m just being a gloomy Gus, failing to see the “good” that will come out of this move. New York’s left-leaning Daily News apparently sees it. The headline of the newspaper’s article reads “Brooklyn school cutting gifted program to boost diversity.”
The piece goes on to smear lipstick all over this pig, claiming that “school officials chose diversity over exclusivity.” In a letter to parents of prospective incoming kindergartners, Principal Mary McDonald wrote:
Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in.
The first part of the statement — the part about heterogeneous grouping — is pure doubletalk. But the part about “the community we live in” is a reflection of a harsh reality and an even harsher sentence imposed on students unlucky enough to come from privilege. The Daily News writer cites Education Department records that indicate that better than two thirds of the school’s roughly 1,000 students are black or Hispanic. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…
But not to worry. The letter from McDonald turns warm and fuzzy and upbeat:
At PS 139, we believe all children can learn and achieve high standards. We also know that we want all children at PS 139 to have equal access to high quality, challenging curriculum….
But “equal access” (in a second letter she calls it “equity”) and a “high quality, challenging curriculum” are mutually incompatible goals. If they weren’t the school wouldn’t be phasing out its gifted program.
For the Obama administration and Democrats to rail out at the wealthy and ascribe an unfair advantage to people whose only sin is ambition is wrongheaded. But when liberals start seeking to level the playing field for children by dumbing down learning for smarter kids to spare the feelings of the slower ones, they are crossing a dangerous line.
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